By Ron VandenBoom
Stanwood W. Sparrow and James Agustus Peter Bohonkus might still bounce around that stage and offer wise-cracking humor to applauding audiences, but fans that have watched the Calhouns perform before noticed that something had changed this year on the free stage at the Great Northern Fair.
A sparkling duo had replaced the formerly more numerous members of the dazzling four piece band known as The Calhoun Family.
At first it was quite a change for us too," said Jim Calhoun, guitar, fiddle, and mandolin player in the group.
Jim and Chris Calhoun have experienced what most parents have to go through sooner or later their kids have flown the coop.
The one time quartet is now a duo as son Jim Jr. and daughter Diana have left the band to pursue higher education and other interests.
"It was back to plan A," Jim Calhoun said. "We had a plan A when we first got married and when the kids got old enough it developed into plan B."
Plan B is what Havre audiences saw two years ago when The Calhoun Family last appeared at the Great Northern Fair. This year audiences got Plan A.
This talented pair of musicians started in the music business more than 18 years ago and have done nothing but grow in talent and popularity ever since.
They have performed on two occasions before President Ronald Reagan and have also played numerous conventions and corporate functions. Their bookings since the departure of their children still includes the county fairs and all their usual venues.
"Our bookings have actually increased," Calhoun said. "We're busier now than we've ever been."
As fairgoers no doubt noticed, the Calhouns music today is as crisp and fresh as ever and the act is just as entertaining as ever.
All their favorite characters from Sparrow to Bohonkus to Bongo The Beatnik are still entertaining audiences and even more freedom is now available to expand their act.
Calhoun said he found his daughter leaving the group to be hardest because they were very close, but in a way the new arrangement is also a second honeymoon for him and Chris.
There was no disappointment on the faces of the audience that got to watch them play as their toe-tapping arrangements of country and rock classics brought smiles and laughter to bouncing rhythms and slick guitar licks.
The mellow harmonies and vocal talent blended well with the up-beat tone of their performance.
It may have been a smaller Calhoun Family visitors got to see this year, but it certainly wasn't less in quality.